The claim that the Bible is the Word of God is the foundation of the Christian Religion. It is used as the basis for almost every argument for every debated theological issue. This claim is usually stipulated and accepted simply as a matter of faith for most Christians. This strikes me as odd, because, well, it’s the foundation for everything else. What is the Word of God? Is there evidence to support the claim that the 66 books of the Bible are, in fact, inerrant, verbally inspired, and complete?
Part I of this series gave a brief overview of the issue, and I recommend reading it before continuing. In Part II, we’ll look at the rationale used to support the claim that the Bible is the Word of God.
Here is the chain of logic, used by most Evangelicals, behind the conclusion that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God:
- The 66 canonical books present a coherent narrative of the history of the world’s origin, the “fall” of mankind, the Jewish people, and God’s plan to reconcile mankind to Himself.
- The Bible is scientifically accurate in every regard.
- The Bible’s historical accuracy has been never been refuted and has been repeatedly corroborated by secular historical accounts and archaeological finds.
- The Bible claims to be God’s Word:
- Many passages in various books (law and prophets) begin with some variation of “Thus says the Lord.”
- David, in his psalms, occasionally describes his reverence for God’s word or law. This is a major theme of the 119th psalm.
- In his second letter to Timothy, Paul states that all scripture is inspired by God.
- In his letter to the Galatians, Paul states that the gospel was not a human invention but was directly revealed to him by Jesus.
- In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul refers to the eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection as scripture.
- In his second letter, Peter says that prophecy was not a human fabrication but was given by the Holy Ghost.
- Also in his second letter, Peter equates Paul’s writings to scripture.
- Jesus quoted the Old Testament several times and referred to many of its historical accounts as being factual (Noah and the flood, Jonah and the fish (whale?), etc.).
- Matthew records Jesus as saying that as long as the world stands, not one word (portion of an alphabetic character, actually) would pass from the law until it was fulfilled.
- Specific Old Testament prophecies have come true—more than would be mathematically probable (virtually impossible) to be a coincidence.
- God is presumed to be all-powerful and all-knowing—concepts corroborated by several Biblical passages.
- Multiple passages in the Bible indicate that God does not lie.
- Any seeming contradictions, errors, or inconsistencies are merely due to a lack of understanding by the reader.
- If God is all-powerful (and has inspired His Word), He has the power to preserve His Word.
- God wouldn’t bother to inspire His Word and then not preserve it.
- Guided by the Holy Spirit, the early church fathers debated the canon and finally came to a consensus on the 66 books we ascribe to today.
- Today, the Holy Spirit illumines the hearts of believers and assures us of the veracity of the Scripture.
Here are a few of the most important caveats (among many) that should be noted when attempting to understand the Bible:
- Understanding of Scripture must be facilitated by the Holy Spirit.
- Any apparent disparity between written Scripture and human observation must be resolved in favor of Scripture, regardless of any other considerations.
- Any portion of the Bible must be understood in its context.
- Scripture must be interpreted with Scripture.
Therefore, the 66 books of the Bible are indeed nothing less than the Word of God, making the Bible true in every regard and fully authoritative for all believers.
Corollaries of the above statement:
- Anyone who claims that there are errors in the Bible is calling God a liar.
- Denying the verbal inspiration of the Bible or believing that even trivial (if I may say that without being blasphemous) portions may contain errors calls the veracity of the entire narrative into doubt. We wouldn’t be able to trust any of it, and there would be no foundation for faith in Jesus. Without faith in Jesus, there is no hope for reconciliation with God. We would all be hopelessly lost.
- Denying the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the Scripture makes one a heretic and precludes one’s ability to be saved.
- A further problem of denying Biblical inerrancy is that if one claimed that any part of the Bible were not true, then one would get to pick and choose which parts he wanted to believe. There would be no transcendent standard of truth—each person would determine his own “truth,” guided only by his whims.
These are the basic arguments for believing that the Bible has been essentially authored by God. I realize I kept them succinct, but I think I’ve adequately captured most of the primary rationale. If I’ve missed anything significant, feel free to comment below or email me. In Part III, we’ll look at the above arguments and determine how credible each is.